Dollywood-Great DisappointmentDollywood: Dollywood did not provide entertainment, warmth or transportation
From Edward JonesDollywood-We went last Dec. 29, 2007 to see the lights. We were very disappointed overall with our visit. I realize that Dollywood has no control over the weather, but, it was chilly. Dollywood provided no heaters in the lines. By 6:00 pm several of ther restaurants were already closed. We did go to the Victorias Pizza. We waited 30 min.(only 6 people in front of us) Could not get pizza, no bottled water. Most of the crafters attractions were closed. We paid the full admission price to see very little attractions, we were cold, restaurants were not open. The only attractions that were open were the ones that you had to pay extra for to see or play. When we went to leave, we had to wait over an hour for transportation to the overflow parking lot. All in all, experience was unpleasant and we will not likely return soon, if ever.
Posted December 30, 2007 at 2:15 PM
Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.
From Greg BarkOk, a few things in your story don't make sense. First of all, it gets dark out early, so you shouldn't expect food stands and craft shops to have the hours of a night club. Also, rides wouldn't be open because of the dropping temperatures. This causes certain rides to lose the ability to function properly.
Posted December 30, 2007 at 3:51 PM
From Erik YatesIt is very silly to blame the park for the lack of planning....but people do it. I see ALOT of disney people complain about it raining when they go to Universal in the summer, and the fact that its so hot and there are love bugs. As if this only happens at this one particular park? Research....thats the only way to avoid situations like this. Perfect example, they are saying it might snow Thursday in orlando....flurries.....but still, its 80 degrees today!
Posted December 31, 2007 at 7:10 AM
From Mostly AnonymousHang on, Greg & Erik, you think it's okay for a park to close a lot of the restaurants before dinner time, on a day when the park is full enough to need overflow parking?
Posted December 31, 2007 at 11:44 AM
It sounds to me like there were some real reasons to complain here. The park may have underestimated the size of the crowd - that would explain running out of food, and not having enough manpower to run the restaurants and trams. Bad planning by the park is a fair reason to complain.
The only complaint that maybe isn't fair is regarding heaters in lines - do any parks ever provide this? I would expect them to keep indoor eating places open, to provide people with a way to warm up.
From marcus beuroflorida parks offer ac fans in the lines, most are the wet fans which really help in the summer time.
Posted December 31, 2007 at 12:06 PM
From Betty Rohrermy family of 10 just returned from 4 days at Dollywood. the park did close early on fri because of rain. it was very crowded on Sat. we rode all the coasters every day but fri. the shows we did were full most of the time other than fri. i hate getting to overflow lot anytime. ps i know the kennel turned away more than one that day.
Posted December 31, 2007 at 1:02 PM
From Erik YatesMostly........I would think most of the schedules for resturaunts, and rides would be listed either on the website, or at the front of the park....maybe I'm wrong in thinking that.
Posted December 31, 2007 at 5:33 PM
From M Holtsclaw-"The only attractions that were open were the ones that you had to pay extra for to see or play."-
Posted January 2, 2008 at 8:38 PM
What? While I can hear you out on the other complaints, I don't quite understand this comment, as Dollywood doesn't have any pay-per-ride attractions. Once you get inside the gate all the rides and shows are free.
During the Christmas season they distribute free tickets for the shows in order to keep the theatre seating organized...that's the only thing I can come up with that could confuse anyone into thinking they had to pay extra to see a show or an attraction.
From Betty RohrerDollywood has not had the tickets for shows since they got the pay system for special seating. i was there that week but not on sat. and had no problems. it was packed on sat. so most shows would have been full if you got there just at show time. i do know from daughter that both mystery mine and thunderhead were going between 5 and 6pm but they only had time to ride one. they were parked in c area and walked out as line for tram was long at 645. from earlier in week, restraunts were open but doors were closed to keep them warm. heaters at outdoor shows were not needed those evenings.
Posted January 3, 2008 at 7:48 PM
From Tim StricklandI hate that your experience was bad, because my experiences were much different and it was well worth the money. However, I honestly think parks need to have set times of the year to be closed. I understand they are trying to make money, but in the area I think they should close like BGE does. Also, I know a lot of people go during that time of year because of the way the mountain area looks, we went in October to see the Autumn leaves, but an unsatisfied customer can cause a bad reputation. Again, I hate that you had this bad time, but give it one more shot if you feel like itll be worth it.
Posted March 4, 2008 at 5:24 PM
From Douglas SlatenI have been going to Dollywood since before it was Dollywood :-) I've watched it go through many changes. Here's what I think meets their "memories worth repeating" category. First of all (and sadly), you can discount the "shows." They are almost the same thing from year to year. The best are the ones that have live musicians, but even they are repeated from year to year.
Posted May 23, 2008 at 8:15 PM
1. The Kingdom Heirs -- I watched these guys (seven with changes in personnel from the beginning through the years) when they performed on the back of a wagon! Then they moved to the Valley Theater, winters and all. Now they are in Show Street (or depending upon the condition of that theater, in the Pines). Whether you are religious or not, you will like their harmonies. They also are a lot of fun. And their shows differ from show to show. They listen to their audience and tailor the show to what they hear. A huge "Memory worth repeating."
2. The Smoky Mountain String Band -- usually a trio (bass, fiddle, banjo, guitar -- they play more than one instrument depending on the song :-) They almost always do something different from show to show. These guys are masters of their instruments -- as good as it gets! Memory worth repeating!
3. James Rogers -- this is a one man show that's been a long time hit at Dollywood and elsewhere. James is one of the most genteel, nice and all around good people you'll ever have the chance to see. His shows include some recorded music (which he plays multiple instruments to), but it's never the same two shows in a row. His message is all positive and uplifting. James is a memory worth repeating!
4. The Kinfolds Show -- these are some of Dolly's kin -- uncles, cousins and the like. Some of them are getting up in age, but they keep the spirit of mountain music alive. They perform on the "Back Porch" of the replica of Dolly's home cabin. They don't have the "chops" of the Smoky Mountain Band, but they do entertain. And they don't repeat the same show over and over. They are a memory worth repeating!
5. Naomi and the Woods Brothers -- these are the "polished kinfolks." Naomi has a great voice, and the band can "pick more notes than the number of ants on a Tennessee anthill." They are a memory worth repeating because they change their songs from show to show (and they are true to the theme of Dollywood).
6. David Tallent -- the magician who had the wonderful show at the exit to the train (did he ever squirt you with his squirting barrel?). He retired -- without fanfare, sad to say. He had been at Dollywood since before it was Dollywood. They should have a plaque up commemorating his years at Dollywood. I saw him a hundred times or more and I laughed at the virtually the same jokes every time! David is a gifted performer. I hope he enjoys his retirement! David was a memory worth repeating!
I'll continue this in another post for fear it might get cut off due to the length!
From Douglas Slaten7. The Rainmaker -- John Lyons. He's a Dollywood institution. He also plays Scrooge at Christmas. He was a stand up comic when Robin Williams, Billy Crystal and the like were trying to make it (he tried himself). He is a born funny man! I used to see him doing "warm ups" for shows in some of the theaters. I don't think Dollywood has ever appreciated his true talents. They should have given him a "show" where he could just run with it. He's very funny as the rainmaker, though. You never know what he might come up with. He's a memory worth repeating!
Posted May 23, 2008 at 8:40 PM
8. Last, but not least, is Miss Lillian (Miss Lillian's Chicken House). This is the warmest, funniest, most spiritual little lady you've ever seen/heard! Like John Lyons, her true talents go far beyond what you see at the "Chicken House." I've sat outside Miss Lillians for an extended time and chuckle to myself at what she comes up with. She plays a little banjo and makes up songs for people. It's never the same song twice that I can tell. She's taken all the country songs you hear from the shows at Dollywood and has changed the words to fit "chicken." I've never seen a performer with more energy. She's all over the place. Even meets the train at the trestle when it's returning to the station. For me, she's got the most non-repeating show in the park. She's definitely a memory worth repeating!
One more post --
From Douglas SlatenI have to say that the "shows" I mentioned in the first post have some truly gifted talent in them. My opinion is that they are held back because the shows are scripted and repeated over and over and over. Most of these talents make the show new each time. So they are worth seeing at least once.
Posted May 23, 2008 at 8:57 PM
But, for me, I don't want to hear and see the same show more than once a year. For a few of the shows, once for all time is enough. As a long time season ticket holder and regular attendee at Dollywood, I want more of the "memories worth repeating" that I listed above. Yes, I know it costs more money, but I'm willing to pay more for it!
As you can probably tell, I know more than a lot of Dollywood guests. I've become friends with many of the people there. In this post I may have offended some of them because I didn't include their show. My intention is to be honest. I don't think my comments will make or break any of the shows at Dollywood :-)
Dollywood has some of the most dedicated employees I've ever had the honor to get to know. The gas crunch is hurting every one -- especially the seasonal employees at Dollywood. Those I normally see are "off today." I discovered that "off today" means their hours have been significantly cut due to lower park attendance.
Please, if you go to Dollywood and see the folks I mentioned above and if you like what they do, WRITE DOLLYWOOD and tell them! They need more folks like these! Also, make sure to tell the talent when you enjoyed what they did!
I have no connection with Dollywood except I have enjoyed it over the years. I hope to continue to for many more years. I hope that the price of gasoline doesn't kill the somewhat off the beaten path theme parks like Dollywood.
From Will KirkpatrickIt was terrible. Not enough rides, poorly run food places. for example. there were only 4 people at a place we went to in there. only 1 person was making sandwiches for all 12 people in line. my mom was in line for about 45 minutes. Parking is psychotic
Posted April 7, 2010 at 8:08 PM
From Theresa LindsayI live in knoxville and have attended Dollywood for years! Our whole family loves it and we have season passes every season. I love the variety of rides, the different festivals, the music, all the different kinds of food..and "Babes in Toyland" is
Posted May 16, 2010 at 4:54 AM
a tradition we hope to share with the next generation!! I am upset that someone had such an unpleasant experience. We have NEVER waited an hour
for the trams! They're usually lined up waiting for us! If it's just freezing, we go and do all the shows and have dinner with our children. If it's unbearable, we go a different day. Dollywoods
passes could be a little less expensive and I wish
gold pass holders could purchase a "guest pass" so they can bring different guests who otherwise would not get to go. Other than that, Dollywood
is the "Jam" and we'll be there all season!!!
From Ben JamesTheresa,
Posted May 16, 2010 at 7:47 AM
Please note that the thread you are replying to is from 2007. it is highly likely that in the course of the last 3 seasons, Dollywood has seen this experience and has already reached out to the guest. They have also probably already changed their policies to prevent this from re-occuring.
This discussion has been archived, and is not accepting additional responses.
Theme Park Insider Guidebooks
Top U.S. Theme Parks
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Other Top International Parks
Readers' Top Themed Rides
Top Roller Coasters
Top Theme Park Shows
Features, News and Advice
2013 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2012 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2011 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2010 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2009 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2008 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2007 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2006 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2005 Blog PostsDec.
2004-2005Staff column archive